DIRECTOR: VINCENT WARD
COUNTRY: New Zealand 1984
CINEMATOGRAPHY: Alan Ballinger
CAST: Penelope Stewart, Frank Whitten, Bill Kerr, Fiona Kay
SUPER FEATURES: The story is unusual, and odd.
This is the first film by this director, which I have found. And in it is the basis for the film which he would
do several years later about a time warp adventure (THE NAVIGATOR), which at this time, was still in the stages
of figuring it all out.
VIGIL is a very good film, although it is moody, and even keeps us really busy trying to figure out what it is
that really is going on. And in the end, we still do not know if the family is abandoning the place, or is just
going to town to sell some meat from the sheep they have, in order to acquire some other goods. The indications
are that this place has become spooked for the young mother and daughter, and it is time for a change.
The film starts out innocently enough with the father going out to hunt for dinner (they have plenty young sheep
available ) and in the rough terrain and mountains he slips and falls to his death. The young daughter has a
sixth sense of sorts, and ends up feeling protected in the world if she wears the father's hood cap, which also
protects against the bitter cold and winds.
The death of the father has created problems for the young wife and her daughter. The daughter has become a bit
of a spiritualist by the way she has developed another feeling, specially for something which she feels is
protecting her. While the daughter is getting stronger, and feeling better, the mother is going in the opposite
direction. The grandfather has to hire another man to do some of the shores in the farm, and he takes an
interest in the young widow. She refuses him, and hates him, until she decides to give in, when she changes her
mind, and they become a pair of lovers. And from that point on, the daughter now feels threatened. And the
threat seems to be that the young widow, has finally decided to get out of the place she is in, and go try her
luck somewhere else, in the city perhaps. The film never hints where she is going, perhaps to go after the man
she has had a few moments with whom she has come to like. But in any case, the daughter is now a bit more
insecure about herself, and even her little visions, or events which make her feel like she is indeed seeing
something, are beginning to act omninously different. The little girl takes off the protecting cap, and we are
sure she will never put it on again.
In many ways, this film is a sad one, which makes a statement about the inevitable disappearance of the country,
or at least those who live in it, for the city. The young mother is a city girl (she likes ballet, and still has
her outfits) and has adapted to the rough country life with her husband and daughter. When the husband dies, her
attraction is gone, or perhaps she never wanted to be in this place herself. The little girl adapts better than
the mother. Being alone, her day consists of going along on journeys for a hunt, or whatever it is that there is
LIKE "THE NAVIGATOR", IT HAS STRONG COMMENTS ABOUT FAITH, both in God and Nature. The power of God is very
strong, although it isn't a religious film per se. The daughter accepts the strength much easier than the
widowed mother. But the mother has to make the moves.
Please email me with questions and/or comments
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